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March 16, 2015

The Week in Quotes

March 9-15, 2015

by Nick Bacarella, Chris Mosch and Nick Wheatley-Schaller

Giants enjoy benefits of advanced metrics and scouting when determining defensive positioning

“There’s so much information today, you’re crazy if you don’t look at it. It helps you learn about the opponent, so we make notes on certain things. That’s where we use more of it. You know the players in your division, and the statistical information isn’t always as important there, when you’re talking about defense. But you go outside your division, we don’t know those players as well. So I try to look at not just the statistical information and spray charts but video because even the spray charts don’t tell the whole story. You can look at where the balls are going, but you’re not reading the swings, you’re not seeing who they’re hitting the balls off of, and that’s what we do here: We dissect it a little more.”
—Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, on using defensive metrics as a place to start when considering defensive positioning. (Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com)

“We keep our own spray charts, so we get stuff from Baseball Info Solutions, a lot of the charts, identifying shift candidates, but we do a lot of it in-house, where we chart the hitters against our pitchers, which is totally different because Tim Lincecum and Jake Peavy are totally different guys than Clayton Kershaw, for example. So we try to blend the two. But when we go outside the division and we don’t have the history with our own people, the information gives us a good starting point. If you don’t look at it, you’re missing the boat.”
—Wotus, on considering specific batter-pitcher matchups when positioning fielders and relying more on league-wide spray charts when facing hitters from outside of the NL West.

“Exploiting individual player strengths — those things are built in, not into the statistics, but knowing the player’s ability, knowing the player. Going back to Pablo, his best strength wasn’t closing on a bunt quickly. So instead of keeping him back and giving people opportunities, we’d play him really close. Some people in the World Series were asking, ‘Why’s he in so close?’ Because we don’t want that guy bunting to get on base. He’s not going to hit the ball that way, but we don’t want to give him a hit. Those are things you can do. Shortstops with good arms can play deeper at times. Fast runners are going to play more shallow. There are little nuances to defending the opposition that are more baseball-related than statistic-related. But the statistics help you when you don’t know players to know what to expect from them.”
—Wotus, on understanding individual player’s strengths and weaknesses when determining defensive positioning.

“We go over a scouting report before every game during the regular season, but Ron puts something together on every hitter and kind of says where I should start,” Crawford said. “Then we’ll feed off each other. He’ll see something, and I’ll see something, and just kind of talk about it and kind of build a new scouting report based off that pretty much every day. Outside the division, that’s where Ron especially comes into play because of the scouting reports or because he’s seen the guy before. He looks at a lot of video, so that’s where he really helps me out. Inside the division, I have a feel for the hitters.”
—Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, on working together with Wotus on his positioning.

Stroman out for the season after freak injury

“It’s tough. It’s more of the fact that I just feel like I let my team down. I’ve worked harder than I ever had this off-season. And to not be able to go out there and compete every day with the brothers that I have kind of developed a relationship with and camaraderie, it sucks. It’s so unfortunate. That’s the hardest part, not to be around some of my best friends in the game, to be way from them.”
—Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, on tearing his ACL fielding a bunt during a pitchers’ drill on Tuesday. (National Post)

“I was going after a ball and just planted and it just popped. It was just one of those things. I’ve heard of people tearing their ACLs just walking. Like it’s just a freak accident. No one’s to blame. It’s not the field, it’s not anything, it wasn’t (third baseman Josh) Donaldson. Obviously he reached out to me because he felt bad but I told him ‘Listen, this isn’t your fault. It’s just something that happened.”‘
—Stroman. Donaldson called Stroman off on the play where the injury occurred.

“Honestly I feel like a lot of people are more worried than I am. I know I’m going to be fine. I know I’m going to come back probably stronger from this. I know that once 2016 comes, I’ll be ready to rock and I’ll have my goals set even higher than I did this year. … We’ll get past it, we’ll move forward and we’ll be good.”

Bryant continues to mash in spring training

“I'm never thinking homers. When I'm thinking that, they never come. I have to stick with my approach. Nice, easy swing and get a good pitch to hit. I've done it my whole life and it's worked so far.”
—Highly touted Cubs prospect Kris Bryant. The 23-year-old has hit six home runs this spring. (Jesse Rogers, ESPNChicago.com)

“He does things few other folks do. He swings up at the ball like Ted Williams used to teach. He hits the ball up in the air. He hits it with tremendous backspin. When he hits, it carries like few others.”
—Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, on Bryant. (Jon Heyman, CBS Sports)

“He’s motivated. He knows he’s really good, but he carries that very well. False humility doesn’t do anything. It’s kind of a worthless quality. But I think his humility’s sincere and he also knows he’s good. The thing that I like is how he is (as a person). That’s, to me, the difference. If he had a different personality, if he didn’t quite get it, I would be thrilled about his tools. But maybe not as thrilled about what he might be able to do in our game. But you combine how he is and who he is with that skill level, then you get really excited.”
—Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on Bryant. (Patrick Mooney, CSN Chicago)

“You have to see him cope with a major league season, because it totally turns different the moment a pitch is thrown. Everything changes. People may not understand that but it’s true — the difference between spring training and the regular season is incredibly different. But this guy’s different. He’s good. He’s going to be real good.”
—Maddon, on Bryant still needing to make adjustments once he makes it to the big leagues. (J.J. Stankevitz, CSN Chicago)

“They had the distance. I can't hang with them in terms of distance, but I'll go right center.”
—Bryant, after going back-to-back-to-back with teammates Jorge Soler and Javier Baez on Tuesday.

The Rest

“It's a combination of feeling, one, that the player is a key part to what we have going here and want to make sure we are able to have him longer than the normal six-year control period. And second, probably almost as important if not more important, is the belief that the guaranteed money wouldn't change the player's approach to their preparation for the game.”
—White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, on the focal points when considering whether or not to lock up arbitration-eligible players to long-term extensions. (Scott Merkin, MLB.com)

“There are fewer and fewer opportunities to gain advantages. A lot of things have been leveled out, so attention to [international] areas was definitely a reaction to that.”
—Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, on investing in the international market as a response to what he considers a “largely efficient” free-agent market. (Tim Britton, Providence Journal)

“I’m pretty sure in Dan [Uggla]’s mind, and I know in mine, we are still great ballplayers. We just had some bad luck. We are trying to be the best player we can be. The rest will take care of itself. We may not get back to All-Star status but maybe right under that [level].”
—Nationals pitcher Heath Bell, on the struggles he’s endured since his run of three straight All Star appearances from 2009 to 2011. (David Driver, Washington Post)

“I feel great, I feel fine. As far as catching goes, if they were to say, 'Here, catch tomorrow,' I don't know. That's the scary part. Like I don't know if I could take one, take 40 foul tips, what it would be. … What I do know is that the longer I have between episodes, the stronger I'll be. It's letting the brain heal all the way again. You might think it's gone, you might think you are all right, but it's still there. You have to let it fully heal or else you can easily re-aggravate it.”
—Rays designated hitter John Jaso, on how he feels after recovering from multiple concussions. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“I think Tomas is improving at third. I think Lamb is showing us he's a possible Gold Glove-caliber third baseman. And we have pretty good outfielders. There's going to be a lot of competition down the stretch.”
—Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale, weighing in on the much-discussed Yasmany Tomas’ development in spring training so far. Jake Lamb has also emerged as a candidate for the everyday third base job in Arizona. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)

“The brain was something that I didn't know a lot about, but I did know this, that muscle memory was very important. And for him to be able to lift both legs with equal strength, the right leg or the left leg, depending on which arm he was throwing with, would require something to master.”
—Pat Venditte Sr., on incorporating motor skill exercises into his son’s routine from a young age. When the Athletics minor-league switch-pitcher was five years old he would step up to a kicking tee and place-kick 25 times from each side every day. (Jane Lee, MLB.com)

“I’m really just a resource for these guys or somebody to lean on for whatever they may need — whether it’s something off the field or something on the field. I’ve been through it. I’ve got a lot of tools and mechanisms to pass down to these guys. … But I don’t report back to the hitting coach or anything like that. That’s important because sometimes as a player, you’re just not feeling well and a coach asks you, ‘Are you all right? and you say, ‘I’m hanging in there.’ You really feel like you’re dying, but if you tell them that, you’re not going to play.”
—Former top prospect Rick Ankiel, on his new position as the Nationals minor league life skills coordinator. (Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“I’m really happy, are you kidding? I’ve been doing dry work off a mound for three weeks, feeling like a [fool]. It will be nice to throw a ball.”
—Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison, who has been simulating his routine on the mound without a ball in recent weeks. Harrison has made just six starts since the beginning of the 2013 season, and missed nearly all of 2014 after having lower lumbar spinal fusion surgery. (Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News)

“I think everybody on the staff could make a case to be the Opening Day starter. That's the beauty of playing in Washington. There is talent everywhere. Everybody is great at what they do. It's going to be fun whoever gets it.”
—Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer, commenting on the depth of talent on Washington’s roster. (Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

“He’s so big and strong that, even though I got it in on him, he still was able to get it out to the warning track. He’s making $300 million for a reason.”
—Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey, after facing Giancarlo Stanton in a spring training game this past Wednesday. Harvey and Stanton figure to face off several times this year. (Tim Rohan, New York Times)

“Absolutely no problem. I think I feel better than last year.”
—Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, on the elbow injury that shut him down toward the end of 2014. Tanaka believes that he will be able to pitch comfortably throughout 2015. (Dan Martin, New York Post)

“He needs to do down and get some playing time. I think everybody's aware, he got some time here but we need to get him going. He'll need regular playing time, four at-bats a day, center field every day.”
—Twins general manager Terry Ryan, after it was announced that Byron Buxton would not break camp with the major league club. (Mike Berardino, Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

Nick Bacarella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here
Chris Mosch is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Chris's other articles. You can contact Chris by clicking here
Nick Wheatley-Schaller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here

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